The Americano Cubano

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America may soon look a lot like Cuba – with lots of ancient cars on the road, kept on the road by determined owners who want nothing to do with the “advanced driver assistance” technology of new cars – or electric cars.

This is better than it sounds.

The Cubans had to make-do with actually ancient cars from the 1950s and before – which were the new cars in Cuba before Fidel Castro took over and no more new cars were imported (except, of course, for the ones Fidel and his communists party nomenklatura drove around in).

We Americanos have the advantage of much newer – modern – cars to keep on driving. Cars that are arguably the apotheosis of car design – which was reached by the mid-late 1990s and fully expressed by the early-mid 2000s, by which time any car you bought was a car that had a largely maintenance-free 15-20 year service life on the low end – and a body that would last twice as long as any car made before then, due to vastly better put-together processes at the time of its manufacture.

The cars of the ’40s and ’50s the Cubanos had to make-do with were cars designed to last maybe six or seven years before needing a mechanical overhaul and the only reason their bodies have lasted as long as they have is because there’s no snow (and no road salt) in Cuba.

Our cars could last almost indefinitely – and without us having to drive cars with ’40s and ’50s-era capabilities and amenities. While avoiding new cars with modern tech.

I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down in the garage to consider my ’02 Nissan Frontier – a truck that has a modern, fuel-injected engine that only needs to be tuned-up once every 100,000 miles or so and in between asks for occasional oil and filter changes and not much else. It has power steering, air conditioning and a modern aftermarket stereoI installed (more here)  that’s as good as many factory-installed new car stereos without the new car.

I do not need much else and thus do want much else.

How much would it cost me to keep this truck as an everyday driver for another 15-plus years? Probably not much since it’s only got 140,000 miles on it – which is the equivalent of 30,000 miles (or less) on a ’50s or ’60s-era car.

Probably it’ll run without needing a mechanical rebopp for another 100,000 miles and maybe longer before it needs anything major. But if I needed a new engine, the cost for that would be a fraction of the cost of a new truck. I actually looked it up and the cost for a rebuilt crate engine from JEGS is about $2,800 (see here). Then good to go for another 20 years-plus and for a lot less than the cost of a new Frontier, which comes standard with all the tech I don’t want – and have no interest in paying for.

The engine has some electronic controls, but they are comparatively simple because the engine has a throttle body injection system; there are stand-alone aftermarket replacements for them, if need be – and the cost for that is about $2,000 all in.

The ’02’s manual transmission has no electronics at all – unlike the almost-universally standard automatics that come in the new trucks. A manual rebuild is straightforward and the cost is about $1,000 – plus a new clutch once every 150,000 or so miles (my truck still has its original clutch).

That brings us up to about $7,000 to redo most of the truck’s major drivetrain parts. Add in another $3k for rebuilding of the suspension and brakes and for replacing accessories such as power steering pumps and the AC compressor, various bits and pieces.

Keeping in mind that  it probably won’t be necessary to replace most of these things for a long time to come and certainly not all at once. So need to come up with the money all at once. But for the sake of discussion, a $10k outlay to bring the ’02 truck back to functionally new.

How about cosmetically?

My almost-20-year-old truck is still in remarkably nice shape; the paint still shines and the bed isn’t rusty. It has some scrapes and few dings but on the whole is still what they call a solid “number 2” vehicle in the classic car trade. Not a show car by any stretch  – but not a beater, either.

Most 15-20-year-old late-model vehicles fall into this category – because unlike the ancient cars of the pre-modern era, their paintwork and bodywork lasts much longer, especially if taken reasonable care of, as by washing it and waxing it every so often.

Mine doesn’t need a paint job or bodywork to go another 10-plus years without looking like a beater.

But what it if did?

It would be pretty easy – and not too pricey – to bring this truck back up to cosmetically as-new, too. I asked a friend of mine who runs a paint and body shop would it would cost to fix the dents and spray the body and maybe spray in a new bedliner. About $5,000 – for a really nice paint job, comparable to the factory paint job.

A decent paint job costs less – and if you don’t care how it looks so long as it functions, who cares?

So, for about $15,000 I could have – in effect – a brand-new ’02 Nissan Frontier for about half the cost of a brand-new Nissan Frontier . . . without the brand-new truck’s “tech.”

My truck doesn’t “assist” me in any way. It doesn’t even beep at me if I fail to “buckle up” for “safety.” It is very old in that respect.

But that’s precisely why I have no interest in anything new.

If you feel the same, maybe consider the same. Be an Americano Cubano – with the AC cranked and cruising at 70MPH all day long.

. . . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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59 COMMENTS

  1. I drive two old vehicles both of which have high miles but run well, 1990 Dodge Daytona V-6 5-spd Manual with 224K miles and a 2004 Hyundai Elantra 5spd Manual with 365K miles. Both only get regular expected maintenance but so far nothing major. BTW, the only annoying noise in the Hyundai is the bad singing of the driver …

    BUT my wife has a 2020 Hyundai Tuscon that has had 5 recalls and been in the shop almost constantly since she bought it …

  2. You won’t be able to keep running those older vehicles. Even if they aren’t banned as some cities in Europe have done, gasoline and diesel will become very expensive, then not available at all. When Zhou Bai Den’s people say no carbon emissions by 2050, they mean no gasoline or diesel engines in use anywhere at all in the US.

    Taiwan intends to ban all gas-powered scooters. That’s just a sample of what other countries are doing. Watch what happens here.

    • I agree, ekrampitzjr –

      Which is why it is so important to say – no! Enough, to all of this. We get what we accept. Let’s not accept this. The first step is not accepting it intellectually. Then openly, by refusing to give it sanction and next – if it becomes necessary – by refusing to tolerate it.

  3. This is the way I roll. I could afford a new car but don’t have one. My truck is 27 years old. (I live in a state that doesn’t salt the roads) . My wife’s SUV is 18 years old. I do most of my own repairs. The only negative about these vehicles is they are thirsty gas drinkers.

    • Hi Anon,

      In re “thirsty gas drinkers” – yup. But a bargain compared with what you’d spend on an “efficient” new vehicle… plus the tax. Plus the insurance.

  4. I have a 2011 GMC Sierra. Its 110000 miles young. Gonna keep fixing it because I can’t justify spending 45-50 grand on a new truck.? Its due for inspection and needs new rear brakes. Hopefully thats all? Even so like Eric stated its cheaper to repair the old than to buy new.

  5. I’d like to find a small to medium sized diesel pickup that’s old enough to have many of the advantages described in the article and comments. I haven’t started looking yet, but my understanding is that this is something of a pipe dream if wanting diesel.

    • Basically pre 94 is what you will be looking at for the ‘dumb’ diesels.
      6.9 or 7.3 idi Fords, 6.2 GMC/Chev and early Cummins Dodge.

      Small Nissans and Toyotas with simple diesels used to exist but I think they have all rotted away.

      If you don’t really need a truck, consider the Dodge Rampage and VW Caddy diesels (40-50mpg) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPo2g3G38Go, if you can find them. Again, most are probably orange dust by now.

      • If your local regulations allow, another option is to find a good Mercedes 300TD motor and swap it into a decent light/midsize truck chassis. A bit of money but done right, it should outlive you and give ~25 mpg.

      • I just did some searches. Forget the VW Caddy. They have turned to dust. Gold dust. Not worth the asking prices.

        I should have warned that they are also incredibly slow unless upgraded with newer motors. Stock, 0-60 in ~30 seconds with passenger and a small load. If it will break 60.

        With a TDI they are very quick but too expensive and the TDI is not a simple diesel. The 1.9idi TD swaps are good, but again, not worth the price unless it fills a very specific need. Not many need a 50mpg not-really-a-truck.

  6. Eric,

    Great article. Just bought (last Wednesday) a 1997 Toyota T100 with 243000 miles.

    I am in love.

    Everything works, except the cruise control. It is a 4wd/3.4l V6/5 speed manual. It’s kind of a unicorn and it has taken me several months to find one that wasn’t beat to death. The last of the Japanese made pickups sold in the US. It’s not flawless, but it’s close. The ignition key is a “KEY,” not one of those chipped out ones with a key fob. It cost me $4 to get another key made. Try that on a new Ram or F150!

    Already, a couple of guys have asked me if it’s for sale. Savvy (usually older) truck realize what this thing is and they want it.

    My wife thinks I’m crazy for buying another pickup (already bought a theft recovery 2016 Tundra last year) but I smile every time I get in the T100 and start rowing the gears manually. When I park the Tundra, I never look back at it. When I park the T100, I always look back at it. The simplicity and quality of earlier Toyota trucks is amazing.

    I will never sell this T100.

  7. The beauty of owning a 2004 Miata is the community owners at miata.net.

    Anything you want to know about the care and maintenance can be found from that online resource.

    I’m keeping mine forever.

    Oh yeah, it even has a 5 speed manual.

  8. My one and only trip to Cuba was a real treat, seeing all those beautiful old cars, sans the Russian Lada’s. Considering the ingenuity and sheer determination of what it takes the Cuban owners – to keep their cars running, often fashioning their own parts, I sure hope that that car scene doesn’t come to an American corners near us anytime soon. The only place worse I’ve been for cars was N. Korea, with the only nice car I saw being a Chinese plated BMW X5 being driven in for probably a business trip. Aside from that, the masses were pretty much relegated to bicycles, which themselves looked pretty sketchy. God help us all if it comes to that here!

    I too shun any vehicle post about ‘06 for much of same reasons as our esteemed journalist at EP Auto’s does. #Making carbureted cars fashionable again!

    • Amen, Tim!

      About the only useful thing my ’02 truck hasn’t got that you can get in most new trucks is heated seats. But those can be added – and I intend to! Might need a stronger alternator but prolly not. Will see – and report!

      • Yes Eric: I have seen them on Amazon. Look just like a rear window defroster. (i.e. an electrical resistor in the form of a copper ribbon.) Was looking at these for a recent Subaru outback b/c to get heated seats you had to go up to the next trim level, which was $$, and with lots of other stuff unwanted. Car upholstery shops can install these too, which I would have done had I bought the car.

        Actually, ended up keeping the ’05 running longer… so far so good. However, the ’05 is the first car I’ve ever had that does NOT have a cable to the throttle body. So yes, that is scary, should the cars computer not get the signal.

        Even scarier is my 2020 F150 with the remote starter via cell phone. So GovCO hacks into my car via cell phone and disables the “gas” pedal with the click of a mouse…

        Am seriously considering a car/truck for hobby purposes, whose clear criteria is direct cable to the throttle body!

        • I went the lazy way and got a seat heating pad that just sits on top of the seat and plugs into the cigarette lighter. No fancy installation needed, and it works great.

          • I had a couple of those in my Sidekick. They had a massage (vibrate) function too.

            Years ago a woman I know need a lift and was cold so I told her to plug the seat in. She got quiet and seemed kind of distracted for the rest of the trip. 🙂

  9. Hopefully there will be more affordable third party solutions for keeping older vehicles on the road once there is more of a market for it. Especially for the electronics and software. Including complete software replacement (I know that is a tough one). It’s clear there is very little interest in repairs from the original manufacturer’s. In fact they go out of their way to prevent repairs.

    There are many times an expensive repair is a better financial decision than an expensive new vehicle. Even if the cost of the repair is more than the value of the car. But if new cars are 40k+ a 5k+ repair may be the only option for most.

    Unfortunately repairing require that people have savings, since there is only financing for new cars. So instead of spending 5k, you spend the 40k.

    It’s often said it’s expensive to be broke.

    • Hi Rich,

      I’ve already looked into this a little and it’s good news – for the older models (like my ’02) with TBI set-ups. The aftermarket TBI units many people install on really old (pre-computer, originally carbureted) cars like my ’76 TA are very adaptable to modern cars originally fitted with TBI. The best part is it eliminates the OE computer and harness altogether, eliminating the issue of having to find OE sensors and so on.

      Or – just run a carb! Also very doable with engines originally designed for TBI.

    • The problem with the 5k repair is you usually have to come up with cash, or put it on a credit card. The 40k car is easy, just go to your local sleazeball Kia dealer, bad credit, no down payment and all. Sign here and drive away.

  10. I had the “fortune,” if you will, to stop in Havana on a cruise several years ago. Despite being able to see what was once most likely a very modern, Western city, the reality is it was one of the most 3rd-world shitholes of a city I’ve ever been in. Infrastructure’s shot, the wiring around town isn’t dissimilar to what you see in pictures of Indian slums, and the stench wasn’t very pleasant. The main power source for the capital is a giant diesel generator (or more) spewing black smoke that billows around town like a cheap whore. Owing to a dearth of Spanish (proper, or the Cubano variety) it was a surprise to actually speak in English around town as I did the touristy-thing. Apparently most of those thousands of 50s and older cars and trucks have been retrofitted/converted into diesels – utilizing mismatched (ancient) Soviet, Venezuelan and Chinese parts as obtainable and as needed. Although those feats were quite impressive from a mechanical-engineering stand-point seeing the leftie-socialist version of “equality” was even more memorable: aside from the few Commie “elites” in Havana who were driving brand spanking new Mercedes everyone else was equally poor and destitute. Some pigs are, indeed, more equal than others in Utopia.

    • Collectivism is supported by a hatred of the productive. The followers think that if they make everything social it will be better for them. Because apparently they think they have an equal or superior position with regard to social/political skills. The trouble is most everyone can figure out a way to be productive but the social skill set is much more lopsided. The sociopaths and psychopaths simply have such an enormous advantage over everyone else.

      • Morning, Brent –

        I know a kid – now a young man, the nephew of one of my good friends – who is a socialist. He fits the description. He wants “free” stuff and also wants “social justice” – and you know what that means. But it’s not all of them. I also know a couple of others, the kids of other friends of mine, who are stand-up and loathe the things we loathe.

        The difference? The socialist – who is also very overweight and drives a relatively new luxury-brand car that was given to him – is a product of government schools. The other two were home schooled.

        • Eric,
          Two of the most brilliant men I’ve known in my life were home schooled. At least, one was completely so, and the other was out for most of “high school”.
          “High school” indeed.
          I had to be high at school to stand the prison-esque atmosphere, while they were at home actually learning useful things.
          As a consequence, both came of age having knowledge and skills the rest of us school-washed hooligans never had considered. I lost track of one guy, but the other became Director of IT for a very successful business, and is likely making more money than 98% of my graduating class.

    • Well, considering that we’re practically living in a communist country right now where the overlords just about piss on us peasants from on high, maybe we are indeed going to end up like the Cuban proles, jury-rigging vehicles together for decades.

    • Havana was as nice if not nicer than Miami was during that time period. It actually had things Miami didn’t have like casino’s and far better nightlife.

    • Hi Haakon,

      In re Bluetooth and cell integration: If you want that, aftermarket stereos generally have both. I have both in the Sony stereo from Crutchfield I installed in my ’02 pickup. The beauty is I can stream music from my iPod if I want to but “hacking” is a non-issue beyond the head unit for the aftermarket stereo; i.e., the truck itself is not hackable.

      • “re Bluetooth and cell integration: If you want that”

        Hell no.

        I have a bunch of CD’s loaded with MP3s by the 100’s for when I’m not listening to the radio/player in my 2003 S-10.

        My post ended up in the comments’ root as I wasn’t paying attention to which reply field I was editing. So the text I quoted and my comment is out of context.

        My point is, remotely hackable SYSTEMS, not just entertainment, are not limited to Bluetooth and cellular tech in the latest vehicles.

  11. I just bought an old work truck from my company — a 2002 first generation Dodge Durango for $500. It has the 5.9, and now 209,000 miles. Interior looks very good and the body is rust free — Wyoming gets snow on occasion but doesn’t salt. Tranny is great for now but as this is a known weak point, I’m just planning on eventually having to spend $2500 or so. Eventually, it may need an engine overhaul, new suspension parts, or some interior bits. I just don’t see why I would keep it going basically forever. Especially as it’s body on frame. Anything comparable new would cost what I paid per month for seven years and come with the nanny spy built in. And then little things like how much less expensive 16” rim tires than 19”, or that a windshield on a car with no sensors is less than $200 vs more than a grand for tech compatible windshields. Yeah the Durango’s sticking around

    • Hi Zach,

      Excellent!

      And: Your mentioning the “tech” windshields many new cars have is spot on. The replacement cost is halting vs. what it costs to replace a simple sheet of glass.

  12. Having been a commuting and road trip “I ride 365” sport rider for three decades (500K road miles on 7 bikes), my 2003 S-10 LE V6 has but 45,000 miles on it.

    Vision and arthritis problems killed riding seven years ago, shortly after I retired. As I drive less than 1000 miles a year, I plan on being buried in my S-10. It’s garaged, of course, and subject to selective long term storage regiments. Fluid changes. tires, etc. based on time rather than mileage. Battery Tender, natch.

    I do worry that the enivro-fascists may one day ban vehicles built prior to some year.

  13. No snow or road salt but I would imagine that, Cuba being an island surrounded by saltwater and Havana, in particular, being coastal, atmospheric corrosion from the salt air would be pretty bad without constant preventative maintenance. Even with. I’ve lived coastal for a decade with my 18 year old Expedition and rust is a major issue both for body panels (it’s no longer watertight despite my crude Bondo repairs for reasons known and unknown) and mechanical things like brake calipers (they stick and sometimes rust together).

    • “being coastal, atmospheric corrosion from the salt air would be pretty bad ”
      I can attest to this. In 1983 I moved from Dallas to Virginia Beach with my rust-free ’72 Honda Civic 1200. In my ignorance, it took about six months for the rust to become noticed. Fortunately, not yet structural, the cosmetic damage was repairable. But even following the tips from the Honda dealer, in five years rust took its toll and I parted it out. That fine 1200 engine ended up in a dune buggy.

  14. My 2004 Toyota Camry XLE is still quite dependable and plans to be for another 20 years, only has 351,000 miles, sure, a few things have been replaced, but nothing major. My backup vehicle is a 2009 GMC with just over 100,000 miles, should last me forever. Concentrating on stocking oil, filters, spark plugs, coolant, etc…

  15. Eric,

    No kidding about the basics. The wife took the 96 Ranger one time because her car was in the shop. I told her it was low on gas so stop on your way out. Sure enough 2 hours later i get a call. The truck just died and i am on the side of the road something is wrong with it. Knowing dam we what was “wrong” with it i ran over with a 5 gallon gas can. I get there and she is telling a cop that stopped to order a tow truck. I asked here if she put gas in it like i told her. She said no, the gas light never went on. My response to her, there is no gas light in this truck. I put the gas i and sure enough it fired right up.

    • Hahaha… I shouldn’t laugh, but it is true. People are having their brains replaced by electronics, and for some, soon there won’t be anything left!

  16. Hey Eric, as I’m sure you know, the newer Frontiers are still pretty simple trucks. Don’t know about the 20 or 21’s, but I have a 19 and it’s basically identical to the 06 I had before, except the radio is fancier on the new one. 5 speed auto tranny, no direct injection, no lane assist or adaptive cruise, no internet connection, no collision avoidance. About as simple and basic as you can get nowadays. Hell, it doesn’t even beep or buzz at me if I don’t put my seatbelt on. I plan to keep it till I die.

  17. Yes, sir!

    Again (I know I gripe about this here somewhat often) I’d love to fix up my ’94 S10. I’m performing the somewhat “redneck” procedure of spraying the whole truck in tan bed-liner. It needs minor work, here and there, but my major problem is finding a working replacement for the MAP sensor, without which the Emissionsfuhrers won’t let me pass and obtain my Sticker of Appeasement. I actually fabricated a working MAP sensor, and the truck drives like a bat-outta-Hell, but it runs slightly rich, and won’t pass emissions.
    I’ve truly considered feeding the intake a synthetic atmosphere of 25% oxygen and 75% argon for the emissions test, though that would probably be more difficult than making or finding a new map sensor, but I’d like the feeling of sticking it to the bastards. Use of argon would make NOx compound emissions nil, and the increased O2 would assure complete combustion of all carbon to CO2, BTW. Can’t lose. 😉

      • Anon,
        Yes, sir, that!
        You’re going to think I’m either incompetent or a liar, but EVERY ONE I’ve purchased is non-functional. And no, it’s not a computer, or some other problem. The parts simply don’t respond to changes in pressure. I’ve proven it with every, single, one. Meaning about 7 or 8, now. That is, I can either monitor the signal voltage while the truck is running and rev the engine, or I can give it a 5V input voltage and pull vacuum on it with a suitable pump, and the signal doesn’t change.
        I built one out of an electronic pressure sensor, and it works, as in the truck drives nicely, but the range isn’t quite right. At some point I’ll have to just sit down and add the proper circuitry to dial that in to spec, and maybe things will work out.
        And yes, I don’t know whether I’d believe me either, but it is so.

  18. My wife’s 2003 VW Beetle is closing in on its 20th birthday. She doesn’t drive it that far, so it has a hair over 100K on it. I’ve had to replace things like the ignition switch and hazard flasher switch, and it’s a 20 footer in cosmetics, but it still runs and drives OK.

    A side note: I diagnosed a problem that even our local VW dealer failed to find by using a hair dryer…yes, a hair styling tool! Her car wasn’t starting unless you held the key in the ON position, and then slowly backed it off. The colder it was, the worse it was. On the advice of our loc VW shop, I replaced her battery and ignition wires (by the way, German cars are finicky about their parts; best to use factory originals when available) yet the problem not only persisted, but got worse.

    I went to various VW clubs’ forums, and found a post about a similar problem being solved by either replacing the starter or the ignition switch. It also mentioned that the ignition switch contained dissimilar metals that wear, expand, and contract such that they lose contact over time, and that there was a recall to fix various ignition switch problems. I didn’t think it was the starter, because once it kicked in, it sounded OK. Furthermore, the problem was less bad after the heat was on inside and the interior warmed up, whereas a bad starter would likely mean that starting would be “uniformly bad” because it’s always outside.

    So one particularly cold morning, the ignition switch failed to activate at all. I got the hair dryer, plugged it into an extension cord, blew it on the ignition switch for 5-10 minutes, and it started up.

    I knew then that it was a bad ignition switch. So I hit Google, found a YouTube video on replacing the switch, and looked at more posts on the VW clubs’ forums. It turns out that replacing it was pretty straightforward and the toughest part was disassembly of the lower dashboard.

    I called the VW shop to order an ignition switch. As a factory part from the dealer, it was pricey at $85, but I wanted one that I would be sure to meet specs. I installed it, and she hasn’t had that problem since, no matter what the weather is like.

    • Hi Hans,

      The Toyota 5.7 V8 is one of the best on the road (like the Toyota 3.5 V6). Assuming good care, it ought to go 250,000 or more. Use AMSOIL. It’s worth it!

    • Yes. Compact pickups with over 150,000 miles typically have exposed foam on the door side of the driver’s seat. It gets exposed to abrasion every time you slide in or out.

      Spent about $1,000 to have an upholstery whiz named Amber reupholster the seats in my 1998 Frontier, whose interior was otherwise mostly pristine. She laid out fabric samples, rated for 100,000 abrasions according to the applicable standard. I chose dark brown (bolsters) and light brown (center portion) consistent with the beige interior … but without the velvety OEM ‘gray mouse fur’ look. By contrast, the new fabric has a robust weave texture.

      Also, the OEM seatbacks did not have enough padding thickness in the lower back area. This made the hard top edge of the seatback frame bite into my shoulders, making long trips uncomfortable. Amber switched the OEM foam from the less-worn passenger seat to the drivers side, and added an extra inch of foam to the lower seatbacks.

      Amber informed me that lumbar supports are cheap from the junkyard, and easy to add while the seat is stripped to the frame. So I got a new adjustable lumbar support on the drivers seat as well.

      Bottom line, fixing the uncomfortable, worn-out seats was one of my non-negotiable requirements to make this truck drivable. The $1,000 cost included materials and 24 hours of Amber’s expert labor. It was worth it.

      Now about Eric’s $5,000 quality exterior paint job estimate. *sucks in breath* That’s more than I expected. But again, one is paying for dozens of hours of skilled labor. The bed needs to removed to fully paint the partially visible back of the cab. What about the exterior paint color that extends inside the door weatherstripping, and under the hood? Maybe muh stimmy check can supply the deposit.

  19. Eric:

    What you are describing is something I’m currently seeing in the world of modern diesels. I’m seeing guys pay big$$ for Cummins 5.9 rams pre emissions def/dpf diesels. In some cases more than a newer models with fewer miles, more features, and in better condition than the older simpler and banged up models.

    This is a strong possibility that free market corrections such as rebuilding/refurbing older cars will win out over the forced prohibitively expensive tech filled autos being pushed. At least to some degree.

    When I look under the hood of my 2014 ram ecodiesel it is a freaking spaceship compared to my 05 sprinter with an inline 5 cyl diesel. (Which is saying a lot considering it’s a Mercedes engine) at least I sort of know what to do with it most of the time. I plan on keeping it for a very long time. These things reliably make it to 500,000+ if properly maintained.

    I’ve seriously considered going backwards in timeline and complexity though. These new cars are getting more absurd every year.

  20. I saw a piece not long ago that showcased those wonderful old cars still moving about in Havana. But the most jaw dropping thing was the degree to which those guys keep that stuff running.

    A 1958 Biscayne might have a 223 Ford six engine. A cast iron Powerglide might be adapted to a Hudson.

    The mechanical talent was off the charts.

    • Much of it is really hack work though. Not that I blame them. The most impressive thing I read was how they would take worn gears from a transmission, weld on new material and then hand shape the gear teeth. Of course it doesn’t last long because the new material isn’t hard enough. I would expect they do some crude heat treating but it still wouldn’t do much.

      Many many years ago I read that there were some Studebaker and Ford mechanicals that the soviets copied and converted to metric. The Cubans were able to make good use of that material. Of course some of these cars got other soviet engines and so on.

  21. My work truck, 2011 F-150 XLT, is still going “fairly strong” at 365,000 miles. V8 with towing package (although has never had a ball hitch in the receiver), 4WD. Original battery. One brake job. Mostly highway miles. Paint is starting to flake and the clear lens headlights are getting pretty well sandblasted from the road treatment (don’t know what plastic Ford used for these lenses but they never got the sunburn that most did). Still has plenty of pull to merge onto the highway.

    None of the GPS monitoring (there’s an app you have to sign in with on your phone) that the newer work trucks are equipped with.

    The newer trucks are smaller, which would be nice to take up less space in my driveway, but then I lose the capacity to haul away a 6′ cabinet. The newer trucks have pretty good Bluetooth and cellphone integration, but not so good that it seems to confuse everyone’s phones. The newer trucks seem to be in the shop more than the older ones too.

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